Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 9;13(1):3980. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31651-3.
Assembling metal-organic framework (MOF)-based particles is an emerging approach for creating colloidal superstructures and hierarchical functional materials. However, realization of this goal requires strategies that not only regulate particle interactions but also harness the anisotropic morphologies and functions of various frameworks. Here, by exploiting depletion interaction induced by ionic amphiphiles, we show the assembly of a broad range of low-dimensional MOF colloidal superstructures, including 1D straight chains, alternating or bundled chains, 2D films of hexagonal, square, centered rectangular, and snowflake-like architectures, and quasi-3D supercrystals. With well-defined polyhedral shapes, the MOF particles are mutually oriented upon assembly, producing super-frameworks with hierarchically coordinated crystallinity and micropores. We demonstrate this advantage by creating functional MOF films with optical anisotropy, in our cases, birefringence and anisotropic fluorescence. Given the variety of MOFs available, our technique should allow access to advanced materials for sensing, optics, and photonics.